February 28, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save on a shot by Boston Bruins left wing Benoit Pouliot (67) during the third period at TD Banknorth Garden. The Ottawa Senators won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
In a potential playoff preview, Senators goaltender Robin Lehner posted his first NHL shutout in a 1-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions, while Erik Karlsson's 15th goal places in the lead of the scoring race among defensemen.
Facing the Boston Bruins, the matchup between the two teams was not only their penultimate divisional match, but a potential playoff preview. With Ottawa just three points behind the Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division, the two teams could easily find themselves facing off in the first round of the postseason.
Despite the scoring power available to both clubs, the match turned into an intensely physical battle, with neither side wiling to give ground in battles along the boards or confrontations after the whistle.
The Bruins found themselves taking the first two penalties of the game, killing a tripping call on newcomer Brian Rolston successfully but paying the price for an interference call against Tyler Seguin. With the Senators' power play keeping a solid screen in front of Tim Thomas, Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson loaded up with a powerful shot from the blue line. The shot went cleanly through Thomas' legs for Karlsson's 15th goal, putting the Swedish all-star in the lead among NHL defensemen for both goals and overall scoring.
Playing with a razor-thin margin, the Senators relied on Lehner the rest of the way. The goaltender responded by making 17 of his 32 saves in the final period, including three penalty kills. The netminder was notably sharp in his movements and made several aggressive glove saves to keep the Bruins off the scoresheet.
The win marks Lehner's first NHL shutout and offers reassurance for the club after the loss of starter Craig Anderson to injury, while the Bruins and head coach Claude Julien must work to refocus and fire up an offense that has been inconsistent since the start of the new year, lest their hold on the Northeast division slip away to the up-and-coming competition.